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bobliocatt

Bullish on conventions? Better check out Orlando

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By RON LITTLEPAGE, Times-Union columnist

People interested in the debate over whether Jacksonville should invest millions of dollars in either a new or an expanded convention center should pay close attention to a series of articles published in the Orlando Sentinel last week.

Sentinel reporters spent more than six months examining the convention industry and the economic impact of a $748 million expansion of Orlando's convention center.

The newspaper reported these findings, among others:

Full article, click here:

http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._18555790.shtml

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indeed, a 700 million dollar convention center would be a huge waste for jacksonville at this point in time.

though i still suspect that something along the lines of a 50 million dollar expansion of the current center would be valuable in the long run. heck, our foolish transportation planners are trying to build overpasses that cost that much.

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That would probably be wise, a large exhibition hall. In Orlando for instance, the only other space aside from the convention center that is large enough for exhibitions (not just conventions) is the hall at the Gaylord Palms hotel. For this reason, Gaylord is booked almost everyday. Disney has of course caught on to this and is now expanding the Coronado Springs space to accomidate exhibitions.

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Littlepage, as usual, gets it all wrong. We are not talking about expanding to the size of Orlando, we are talking about expanding to the size of smaller cities than us, such as Birmingham or Greensboro, NC. Our convention center is so small we have lost old clients who might come back should we expand to accomodate them. Also, I dont get the argument that adult conventioneers would be attracted to Orlando because of all the theme parks. Most adults I know, who didnt bring their kids with them, could care less about Disney. Beaches, a developed downtown/historic districts, and golf courses are adult entertainment options though of which we have (or will have soon) plenty.

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